Peter always found it difficult to recall the minutes after they stumbled out of the wardrobe, blinking like moles in the light. The changes that must have occurred in those minutes, however, were obvious even long after the fact: he found himself singing in the wrong key at church, found doors suddenly heavier than they had ever been, found that he would bump his head on the great-room's high old-fashioned mantlepiece if he wasn't careful.

Then, too, there were other jarring moments unrelated to Peter's physical body. The electrified rooms, which were all on the first two floors, seemed unreasonably bright. None of the Pevensies had much taste for listening to the wireless, either: the staticky voices hurt their ears.

They were not, of course, wholly insensible to what was going on outside Professor Diggory's house. The Macready took no newspapers, but the Professor did, and Peter fished them out of the kitchen kindling box each evening.

When the bombs began falling on London in earnest, Peter did not tell his siblings. He put the newspaper back in the box where he found it and was quietly ill in the kitchen sink. The stink of burning giant-flesh had suddenly come back to him, and that was when he knew - he was becoming a child in more than appearance.


Susan brought a rabbit into the house and was well over halfway done skinning it before the Macready found her.

In Narnia, the idea of hunting for food and not pleasure rarely appealed to Susan. There was always the fear, of course, that one might kill a talking animal without intending to; further, it was uncomfortable to eat venison in front of a Stag, though the Stag didn't mind. Laundry, as well, was a rather onerous job, and though Susan herself was not expected to pitch in, she felt somewhat guilty at ruining her beautiful silks and satins with blood.

Back in England, however, there was no reason to fear killing a friend, nor guilt over ruining the stiff, itchy clothing one was expected to wear. Peter had gone queer and distant in the weeks since they left the wardrobe; Lucy and Edmund were clannish, casting offended glances over their shoulders when Susan tried to break into their conferences - as if they were the only ones who missed being Kings and Queens! So she searched all the museum-quiet halls of Professor Diggory's house to find a weapon, and when she found a bow that would serve, she strung it and listened to the sweet sound it made.

The next morning she left before dawn, on foot, and came back after breakfast with the rabbit. She intended to stew it, but she didn't get the chance: the Macready's voice rose, its Scotch burr thicker than ever, and routed her from the kitchen. Sent upstairs to wash, Susan realized that she did look like a savage, with blood like war-paint smeared on her cheeks. "Queen Susan, the Gentle," she said to herself as she washed it off - but the mantra had no visible effect, and she found herself roundly scolded for conduct unbefitting a young lady.


Edmund, who had left no precious gifts in Narnia, discovered that the suits of armor in the Professor's halls were all rather poorly kept up. There was no question of cleaning them, however: they were antiquities, not to be touched by children.

Although the rain did not come back for the rest of the summer, Edmund had little interest in going out of doors. It didn't seem to satisfy the way it did once - the air was not as pure, nor the flowers' scents as sweet. Instead, he carefully observed the Macready's route, the tours she led through the house and her habits when there were no tours. He determined that she most rarely came up to the attics.

There, in the gloom, Edmund practiced his footwork. There he relearned his body's limits.

Lucy came up, too, to spar against him. It was rather un-girlish of her, but she'd always been the tomboy; in any case she was still good with a knife, though Edmund had more height on her in England than he had in Narnia.

In the attics they sometimes fell to talking in their old courtly way: Lucy allowed Edmund to practice telling tales in the Calormene style, and together they would recall their campaigns, drawing up battle plans in the dust on the floor. They found some figurines of creatures, imported from India, which the Professor gave them permission to play with. These tools in hand, Edmund spent hours and hours planning their next assault on the giants.

Just as autumn came, Edmund found two epees buried under old bolts of fabric that might have once served as curtains. For a moment he thought their blunted blades might serve - but Lucy couldn't lift one without strain. Neither could he, to admit it.

Since even the bow Susan found had been taken away, Edmund returned sullenly to footwork and critique: one of the most prized suits of armor was quite mismatched - but he secretly hoped some expert would point it out in an exceedingly crushing way, and therefore chose not to tell the Macready.


Lucy expected to feel something when she saw her mother - happiness or gratitude. But it had been so long that when the tall elegant woman appeared in Professor Diggory's entrance hall, Lucy assumed she was waiting for a tour and paid her no mind.

The mistake became evident when Mother spotted Lucy, who was quietly examining one of the old tapestries on the stairs, and shouted up to her. "Darling!" A moment later Lucy was enveloped in Mother's smart tweed skirt-suit, her cloying scent and her effusive greetings. It was the first time that she had been embraced by an adult since the return from Narnia, and she had almost forgotten how small she had become. Mother's hands seemed like huge ungainly paws next to her own dainty white ones.

"It is good to see you, Mother," Lucy lisped: her right front tooth was out. That set off another round of fussing: the big paws were suddenly touching her face, peeling back her upper lip as if Mother had any right to lay hands on Lucy at all, and quick as a viper Lucy slapped them away; such indignities could not be borne -

"No hitting, Lu!" Mother said, grabbing her wrists. "I thought you would have outgrown that by now; you aren't a baby, you know!"

Just then, Peter and Susan appeared at the top of the stairs. To the casual glance, they were simply two schoolchildren walking down - but Lucy saw Susan's fingers alight on Peter's wrist, watched Peter's hand settle at his hip where his sword's hilt used to rest, and knew that she was seeing the High King and High Queen of Narnia. In her mind's eye she saw them descending the dais at Cair Paravel.

"Oh my dears!" Mother cried. Forgetting, for the moment, Lucy's faux pas, she rushed up to hug her children.